Twitter, $48 million in free media coverage

Chris Caceres · July 20, 2009 · Short URL:

Report by VMS shows micro-blogging site is in no doubt everywhere and the numbers prove it

 I don’t think I know of anybody who hasn’t heard of Twitter by now.  And I’m not necessarily trying to say that everybody is Tweeting and actually using its micro-blogging service – I’m just saying we can’t deny the words, “Tweet, Twitter, and Follow,” are all over the media these days.  Whether it be something completely ridiculous, like Ashton Kutcher’s race to one million followers, to real-time up to the minute citizen journalism – Twitter is everywhere.  Even 104 year old, Ivy,is Tweeting.

In a report published today by, news-monitoring service, VMS, Twitter has received 2.73 billion impressions in the past 30 days.  57 percent of these come from television, while the rest come from newspapers and magazines.  

What this means, is that all these mentions of Twitter throughout the media add up to $48 million in pretty much free advertising for the company.  

AdAge spoke with Garry Getto, VP-integrated media intelligence at VMS.  Getto remarked, "This is huge. It's very, very high…In fact, we looked at online coverage of Twitter vs. Google. Twitter is running significantly higher than Google and I didn't think anything was more popular than Google."

Based on the report, Fox News gave the most value to Twitter, and CNN mentioned it more often. The San Francisco-based startup has proved itself a widespread medium for human communication, specifically the sharing of news as seen in plenty of examples this year – Hudson River plane crash, Presidential Inauguration, the Iranian conflict and the list goes on.  

VMS put these values into perspective saying that in comparison to Twitter, Microsoft’s Bing only added up to $573,834 with a mere 63 million impressions.  

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What is Twitter?

Twitter is an online information network that allows anyone with an account to post 140 character messages, called tweets. It is free to sign up. Users then follow other accounts which they are interested in, and view the tweets of everyone they follow in their "timeline." Most Twitter accounts are public, where one does not need to approve a request to follow, or need to follow back. This makes Twitter a powerful "one to many" broadcast platform where individuals, companies or organizations can reach millions of followers with a single message. Twitter is accessible from, our mobile website, SMS, our mobile apps for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, our iPad application, or 3rd party clients built by outside developers using our API. Twitter accounts can also be private, where the owner must approve follower requests. 

Where did the idea for Twitter come from?

Twitter started as an internal project within the podcasting company Odeo. Jack Dorsey, and engineer, had long been interested in status updates. Jack developed the idea, along with Biz Stone, and the first prototype was built in two weeks in March 2006 and launched publicly in August of 2006. The service grew popular very quickly and it soon made sense for Twitter to move outside of Odea. In May 2007, Twitter Inc was founded.

How is Twitter built?

Our engineering team works with a web application framework called Ruby on Rails. We all work on Apple computers except for testing purposes. 

We built Twitter using Ruby on Rails because it allows us to work quickly and easily--our team likes to deploy features and changes multiple times per day. Rails provides skeleton code frameworks so we don't have to re-invent the wheel every time we want to add something simple like a sign in form or a picture upload feature.

How do you make money from Twitter?

There are a few ways that Twitter makes money. We have licensing deals in place with Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft's Bing to give them access to the "firehose" - a stream of tweets so that they can more easily incorporate those tweets into their search results.

In Summer 2010, we launched our Promoted Tweets product. Promoted Tweets are a special kind of tweet which appear at the top of search results within, if a company has bid on that keyword. Unlike search results in search engines, Promoted Tweets are normal tweets from a business, so they are as interactive as any other tweet - you can @reply, favorite or retweet a Promoted Tweet. 

At the same time, we launched Promoted Trends, where companies can place a trend (clearly marked Promoted) within Twitter's Trending Topics. These are especially effective for upcoming launches, like a movie or album release.

Lastly, we started a Twitter account called @earlybird where we partner with other companies to provide users with a special, short-term deal. For example, we partnered with Virgin America for a special day of fares on that were only accessible through the link in the @earlybird tweet.


What's next for Twitter?

We continue to focus on building a product that provides value for users. 

We're building Twitter, Inc into a successful, revenue-generating company that attracts world-class talent with an inspiring culture and attitude towards doing business.